Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD E-mount lens (Model A067)

      Photo Review 8.9

      In summary

      Tamron’s 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD E-mount lens is an excellent performer with 8x zoom range, fast and efficient autofocusing  and stabilisation.

      Full review

      Tamron’s 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD lens (Model A067) represents a new category in zoom lenses with its 8x zoom range reaching from the 50mm ‘standard’ focal length out to a 400mm ‘ultra-telephoto’ position. Designed for Sony’s E-mount full-frame mirrorless cameras, it is similar in size to conventional 100-400mm zoom lenses and weighs only 1.155 kg. It comes with weather-resistant sealing and a fluorine-coated front element. We received an early release model of this lens for our review and tested it on a Sony α7 III camera body.

      Angled view of the new Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD lens. (Source: Tamron.)

      The optical design of this lens is complex, with 24 elements in 18 groups. Among them are two XLD (eXtra Low Dispersion) elements, along with three LD (Low Dispersion) elements and two aspherical elements (shown in the diagram below). Nine diaphragm blades produce a circular aperture for attractive bokeh and 18-pointed sunstars. Proprietary, second-generation Broad-Band Anti-Reflection (BBAR-G2) coating is applied to suppress internal reflections and fluorine coating on the front element repels moisture and grease, making the lens easy to keep clean.

      The optical design of the Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD lens showing the positions of the exotic elements. (Source: Tamron.)

      Autofocusing is driven by a Tamron-designed VXD linear motor focus mechanism, which uses voice-coil motors. It’s fast and quiet and Tamron claims it maintains positional accuracy down to 0.005mm. We’ve seen no reason to doubt that.

      VC (Vibration Compensation) makes no claims for its degree of shake correction, which is sensible since this relates to the user’s shooting technique and conditions, but it provides two modes: standard and panning. AI processing also enables the camera and lens to set appropriate compensation characteristics for videography at focal lengths of 100mm or less.

      Close-up shooting extends into the ‘half-macro’ range with the 50mm and 70mm focal lengths both offering 1:2 magnification ratios. Magnification is almost as impressive at 400m, which supports one quarter life-size reproduction. The table below shows the minimum focus and maximum magnification ratios at the main focal length settings.

      Focal length 50mm 70mm 100mm 135mm 200mm 300mm 400mm
      Minimum focus 25 cm 27 cm 35 cm 55 cm 1.1 m 1.5 m 1.5 m
      Max. magnification ratio 1:2 1:2 1:2.4 1:3.5 1:5.3 1:5.1 1:4

      The lens is also compatible with Sony-specific functions like Eye AF, Fast-Hybrid AF and in-camera lens corrections for vignetting, chromatic aberration and distortion. It also supports Direct Manual Focus (DMF) in AF mode.

      The Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD lens shown with the optional Model A035TM tripod mount. (Source: Tamron.)

      While the lens comes with a petal-shaped lens hood and front and rear caps, the Model A035TM tripod mount is an optional accessory that sells for roughly AU$200. This mount is also compatible with the Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD (Model A035) lens.

      Who’s it For?
      This lens will suit owners of Sony Alpha full-frame cameras who want single lens with a reach that extends from the ‘standard’ 50mm focal length to a long telephoto range. Most potential buyers will want to photograph sports and wildlife with the camera hand-held.

      It could also suit families looking for a general-purpose lens for photographing or shooting videos of children in action. It’s a bit too conspicuous for street photography but could be used for taking photos at community events and recording local sports, particularly in outdoor venues.

      Videographers should appreciate the ability to customise the focus set button with Tamron’s Lens Utility software (see below) and also update the firmware directly. This requires the lens to be connected to a computer by plugging the optional USB Type-A to Type-C cable into its connection port (located near the lens mount). (We’ve outlined this feature in our review of the Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8 Di IIIVXD (Model A058) lens.)

      The excellent close-focusing capabilities of this lens will be welcomed by photographers who enjoy taking close-ups of flowers and other botanical subjects as well as small animals and birds. The 400mm setting should be adequate for recording larger birds and the fast focusing and stabilisation can provide scope for birds-in-flight photographs. Near silent operation allows close-up video to be recorded including where the subjects are very small bush birds, as shown in the sequence below.

      This series of four frames was taken from a 42-second hand-held video clip showing a Superb Blue Wren enjoying a dip in a puddle. 400mm focal length at  ISO 1600, 4K 25p.

      Car and aero enthusiasts could also find this lens useful for hand-held action shots – provided it’s used in reasonably bright conditions. Maximum apertures are a little slow for low-light work.

      Build and Ergonomics
      Tamron doesn’t specify the materials used in the construction of this lens but, going on appearance and handling we’d say the outer and inner barrels are made mostly of composite polycarbonate on a metal mount. Build quality is very sound and up to the company’s usual high standard.

      The surfaces are somewhat glossier than previous models with better resistance to abrasion and fingerprints, although they’re certainly not slippery. Grip performance has been improved by increasing the density of the ridges on the rubber-clad rings.

      A line-up of Tamron lenses that all use 67 mm filters. (Source: Tamron.)

      The front section of the inner barrel is 15 mm deep, with a filter ring that accepts the same 67 mm filters as a lot of other Tamron lenses, shown in the graphic above. The bayonet mounting for the supplied HA067 lens hood is on the outside of this section of the barrel, which curves outwards then runs flat for about 8 mm before stepping in and then remaining straight for the rest of the inner barrel.

      The front element of the lens is roughly 65 mm in diameter and coated with a fluorine compound that repels moisture, dust and grease and helps to keep the lens free from contaminants and fingerprints. The petal-shaped lens hood is 57 mm deep with fine ridging on its inner surface to suppress internal reflections.

      The zoom ring is located at the front of the outer barrel. It’s 50 mm wide, with most of its surface clad in rubberised ridging. A 6 mm wide unridged band around the trailing edge carries engraved markings for the 50mm, 70mm,100mm, 135mm, 200mm, 300mm and 400mm focal length settings, which line up against a white line on the fixed section of the lens barrel behind the zoom ring.

      Inner barrel extension. (Source: Tamron.)

      The zoom ring turns smoothly through a small arc of 75 degrees between the 50mm and the 400mm positions, extending the inner barrel by almost 75 mm. This being a variable-aperture lens, the maximum aperture closes as focal length is increased with a swap to f/5 at 69mm, then again to f/5.6 at 106mm ending up at f/6.3 from 149mm to 400mm.

      This graphic shows the aperture change-over points. (Source: Tamron.)

      Behind the zoom ring is a fixed 26 mm long section of the outer barrel that carries the focus set button, stabilisation mode selector and custom switch controls.  The focus set button is customisable, with the selected function it operates chosen from the camera’s menu.

      If you use the Tamron Lens Utility application, the focus set button can be programmed for one of the following modes:
      – A-B focus set, which allows you to select two positions an make the focus shift automatically between them;
      – pre-set a focus distance and move the focus to the recorded point with a single button press;
      – switch between AF and MF modes;
      – restrict the focus range (new to the 50-400mm lens)
      – switch focus ring adjustment to aperture adjustment;
      – assign one of the functions available from the camera menu to the Focus Set Button;
      – clear custom settings.

      The VC stabilisation switch has three positions: Mode 1, 2 and Off. Mode 1 provides basic stabilisation but isn’t effective for panning while Mode 2 is designed specifically for panning. The lens name is also located to the right of these controls, with the zoom lock switch further around the barrel. We didn’t need to lock the lens as the inner barrel showed no signs of sliding down when the lens was carried pointing downwards.

      The focusing ring is located just behind this section of the barrel. It’s 18 mm wide and entirely covered by fine rubber ridges. Since focusing is driven from the camera, this ring turns through 360 degrees when power is not supplied.

      Behind the focusing ring is a 12 mm wide flat section of the barrel, which then that dips inwards before flattening out for about18 mm to provide space for attaching the optional tripod foot. A 7 mm wide band behind it carries a white index mark for aligning the tripod collar.

      The barrel slopes in for a further 7 mm wide band then flattens out for approximately 10 mm to provide space for a waterproofed USB Type C socket for connecting the lens to a computer. This enables users to customise the lens and upgrade its firmware directly through the Tamron Lens Utility app, which is available as a free download.

      The lens steps in again by a millimetre or so then runs straight for 10 mm to a 2 mm wide silver band at the edge of the metal lens mount. A white index mark at the edge of the silver band provides an alignment guide.

      We were unable to measure resolution across the entire zoom range using our Imatest system due to a lack of space in our testing area, although we obtained test results from five focal lengths: 50mm, 70mm, 100mm, 135mm and 200mm. The best performance was measured at 50mm with the widest aperture (f/4.5), where both centre and mid-range resolution exceeded expectations for the test camera’s 24-megapixel sensor.

      All the focal lengths we measured delivered similar resolutions at their widest apertures and all showed similar edge softening.  The graph of our Imatest results is shown below.

      High central zone resolution persisted through most of the aperture range for all the focal lengths we tested through to around f/11, where diffraction began to take effect. This represents excellent performance for a variable aperture zoom lens.

      With auto chromatic aberration enabled in the camera, lateral chromatic aberration in JPEG files remained within the ‘low’ band for all focal length and aperture settings but increased as the focal length was extended. (The red line marks the border between ‘negligible’ and ‘low’ CA while the green line delineates the ‘moderate’ category in the graph below.)

      With uncorrected raw files it nudged up into the ‘moderate’ range where our test results showed the main problem was in the blue channel, where significant deviations occurred. Interestingly, we found no apparent coloured fringing in test images taken with the lens, including in raw files where in-camera corrections were disabled.

      We found visible vignetting at the maximum apertures with all focal lengths in the zoom range – but only

      when the in-camera corrections were disabled. No vignetting could be seen when the in-camera corrections were applied and it was easy to apply corrections to raw files as they were converted into editable formats.

      Rectilinear distortion was also present across the focal length range but, again, it only occurred when the in-camera distortion correction was disabled and in uncorrected raw files. It ranged from barely visible pincushion distortion at 50mm through to obvious pincushioning at 300mm and 400mm.

      Autofocusing was very fast and precise as long as the correct settings were selected. We were impressed by the way in which the lens could be focused on a tiny bird that was partially hidden by foliage in the foreground when using spot focusing – even though the camera we used did not include bird detection.

      Focusing was also very quiet, enabling us to take pictures and record video a couple of metres away from subjects that would normally be scared away by unexpected noises. Some examples can be found in the Samples section of this review.

      Backlit subjects were mostly handled well, and sunstars were usually sharp, with the nine-bladed iris diaphragm producing 18 spikes. Coloured flare artefacts were found in strongly backlit shots where the light source was inside the image frame but there was no significant veiling flare and no apparent flaring in shots taken with the light source outside the frame.

      As usual, bokeh in close-ups at wide aperture settings was influenced by background lighting.  We found some hard edges around bright out-of-focus highlights in backlit situations, although not with evenly-lit scenes. Foreground blurring tended to be smoother and more attractive.


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      Picture angle: 46 degrees 48 minutes to 6 degrees 11 minutes
      Minimum aperture:  f/22-32
      Lens construction: 24 elements in 18 groups (including 2 XLD, 3 LD and 2 aspherical elements plus BBAR-G2 and fluorine coatings)
      Lens mounts: Sony E (full-frame)
      Diaphragm Blades: 9 (circular aperture)
      Weather resistance: Moisture-resistant with 9 rubber gaskets
      Focus drive: VXD (Voice-coil eXtreme-torque Drive) linear motor mechanism
      Stabilisation: Yes (details not specified); Standard and Panning modes available
      Minimum focus: 25 cm at 50mm; 1.5 m at 400mm
      Maximum magnification: 1:2 at 50mm; 1:4 at 400mm
      Filter size: 67 mm
      Dimensions (Diameter x L): 88.5 x 183.4 mm
      Weight: 1,155 grams
      Standard Accessories: Front and end caps, petal-shaped lens hood
      Distributor: Blonde Robot, (03) 9023 9777



      Based on JPEG files taken with the Sony α7 III camera.

      Based on ARW.RAW files recorded simultaneously and converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw.



      Vignetting at 50mm f/4.5.

      Vignetting at 70mm f/5.

      Vignetting at 100mm f/5.6.

      Vignetting at 200mm f/6.3.

      Vignetting at 300mm f/6.3.

      Vignetting at 400mm f/6.3.

      Rectilinear distortion at 50mm.

      Rectilinear distortion at 70mm.

      Rectilinear distortion at 100mm.

      Rectilinear distortion at 200mm.

      Rectilinear distortion at 300mm.

      Rectilinear distortion at 400mm.

      50mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/8.

      400mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/640 second at f/7.1.

      50mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/80 second at f/9.

      Crop from the above image magnified to 100% showing very little  coloured fringing along high-contrast edges.

      Close-up at 50mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/160 second at f/7.1.

      Close-up at 400mm, ISO 320, 1/500 second at f/6.3.

      Close-up at 50mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/60 second at f/5.

      Close-up at 400mm focal length, ISO 1600, 1/500 second at f/6.3.

      400mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/500 second at f/6.3.

      400mm focal length, ISO 320, 1/500 second at f/6.3.

      400mm focal length, ISO 6400, 1/500 second at f/6.3.

      400mm focal length, ISO 500, 1/500 second at f/6.3.

      400mm focal length, ISO 320, 1/500 second at f/11.

      400mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/500 second at f/6.3.

      Sunstar at 50mm, ISO 100, 1/125 second at f/22.

      Sunstars at 300mm, ISO 100, 1/200 second at f/32.

      Sunstars at 400mm, ISO 100, 1/320 second at f/22.

      Flare artefacts with strong backlighting; 50mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/50 second at f/11.

      241mm focal length, ISO 800, 1/250 second at f/6.3.

      Crop from the above image magnified to 100%.

      400mm focal length, ISO 1600, 1/500 second at f/6.3.

      Crop from the above image magnified to 100%.

      50mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/50 second at f/16.

      400mm focal length, ISO 3200, 1/500 second at f/6.3.

      100mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/30 second at f/4.5.

      Action shot; 400mm focal length, ISO 640, 1/500 second at f/8.

      Bokeh at maximum aperture, 277mm focal length, ISO 1000, 1/320 second at f/6.3.

      50mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/25 second at f/9.

      85mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/100 second at f/11.



      RRP: AU$2399; US$1299

      • Build: 8.9
      • Handling: 8.9
      • Image quality: 9.0
      • Autofocusing: 9.0
      • Versatility: 8.5